Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
One of Tasmania’s leading community housing providers has raised concerns over the Government’s plans to privatise public housing stock.
Colony 47 is the lead agency administering Housing Connect on behalf of the State Government.
Colony 47 Chief executive Therese Taylor has cast doubt on the Government’s claims that its privatisation plan has universal support in the community sector.
“There is not consensus across the community sector that the Government transferring title to the Better Housing Futures Providers is acceptable,” Ms Taylor said.
“Colony 47 would question the decision because public housing is a public asset and we believe this Government had a policy of not selling public assets.
“My concerns are that it doesn’t seem to be based on any particular business case and the need to give away titles as opposed to just the management, the case for that hasn’t been established.” (Therese Taylor, Colony 47)
“The Minister has failed to produce a single shred of research or evidence to support the privatisation of 500 properties,” Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said.
“In the words of the Government’s own lead agency, the Minister needs to establish the case for title transfer.”
The Liberal Government has failed to provide any evidence to underpin the decision to give away 500 public housing properties to the private sector.
Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said the Liberals are unable to explain why they are rushing into gifting $125 million worth of public assets.
“The Government has rushed head-on into a privatisation agenda without a mandate,” Ms White said.
“Jacquie Petrusma failed in Question Time to point to any evidence to back up her Government’s privatisation of public housing stocks.
“Labor’s concern is not with community housing providers’ ability to manage these properties, but with the Government’s handling of the issue.
“The Minister couldn’t even say if the decision had to be approved by Parliament, in line with the requirements of the Crown Lands Act.
“The Liberals promised not to privatise public assets, before and after the 2014 election.
“The Minister indicated in Estimates last year that the handover of title was not something up for consideration for five to ten years.”
“I am not saying it will ever happen but I am not going to rule it out. We cannot say what the decision is going to be in five or 10 years' time, but because you are quite right that there are legitimate concerns, it will not be happening for quite a few years.” (Minister Jacquie Petrusma, Estimates, September 2014)
The Minister went on to say:
“At this stage because there are legitimate concerns I can say that unless we can be sure that tenants' rights will be protected and Housing stock will definitely 100 per cent remain affordable housing that complies with national community housing regulations et cetera, it will be ruled out. There is a lot more work to be done before it will ever be ruled in but I am not going to 100 per cent rule out something which in five or 10 years in the future might have to be coming in.”
“Now they’re giving away 500 public housing properties without any clear supporting evidence, without consulting stakeholders, and they are failing to be transparent about the process,” Ms White said.
The Minister for Human Services seems to think that the only stakeholder views relevant to the discussion about the transfer of 500 public housing properties are the community housing providers who are set to benefit from the decision.
Shadow Minister Rebecca White said the Minister today dismissed concerns raised by the CEO of Colony 47, Therese Taylor, about the move to give away 500 public housing properties because Colony 47 is not a community housing provider.
“Colony 47 is the lead agency for the operation of Housing Connect and has been operating in Tasmania for more than 40 years providing support to vulnerable Tasmanians,” Ms White said.
The most recent progress chart shows there are more people on the public housing waiting list compared to the same time last year.
Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said there were 2771 people were waiting for public housing at the end of June this year.
“There are more people on the public housing waiting list compared to the previous quarter,” Ms White said.
The latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the figures clearly show that Tasmanians are waiting longer to access elective surgery compared to the same time last year.
“Just 53 per cent of Tasmanians have been seen within nationally recommended timeframes for surgery, a significant decrease on the year prior,” Ms White said.
Pressure is growing on Human Services Minister with new data confirming the enormous stress on the Child Protection system.
Shadow Minister Rebecca White said Jacquie Petrusma is failing staff who are trying to protect Tasmania’s most vulnerable young people.
“Child Protection workers are dealing with as many as 24 individual cases at a time as they try desperately to keep kids safe,” Ms White said.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White has marked Mental Health Week by launching a youth mental health policy.
14% of Australians experience mental health issues at some stage during adolescence, which is equivalent to 16,850 young people in Tasmania.
“It is widely acknowledged that early intervention and prevention during childhood and adolescence is the most effective way to address mental health issues,” Ms White said.
The Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding needs to immediately announce what the future holds for the Triabunna wharf.
“We are told via a TasPorts spokesman an announcement could be made this week but the Government is still saying nothing,” Ms White said.
“Surely, Rene Hidding knows what’s going on and he should stop stalling and tell Tasmanians.
“The Liberals have caused great uncertainty by not consulting with the community and undermining Graeme Wood’s significant tourism venture.
Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma has been caught out manipulating child protection statistics to suit the Liberals’ political needs.
Last month in the midst of the ignored child protection notifications crisis, the Minister claimed caseloads on the North West Coast were lower than in other regions, now she is trying the same trick when discussing the North.
“I am advised there are more staff and fewer cases allocated per worker in the North-West than other regions,” (Jacquie Petrusma, 17th August 2015)
“The particular claims they make today are again wrong - in fact, the caseload in the North is the lowest in the state, at an average of 12 cases per worker.” (Jacquie Petrusma, 29th September 2015)
Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said Ms Petrusma should stop treating child protection staff with contempt.
A Right To Information request by the Labor Opposition has revealed an alarming number of elective surgeries continue to be cancelled.
Tasmanian hospitals were forced to cancel 3061 surgeries in the year ending June 2015.
In the North West, 645 surgeries were cancelled at the Mersey and North West Regional hospitals.
1087 surgeries were cancelled over 12 months at the Launceston General Hospital.
While at the Royal Hobart Hospital, 1329 surgeries were cancelled.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said cancelled surgeries remain a serious problem across our hospitals.